House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Aug. 27 sought to clarify her comments after earlier stating that she does not believe Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden should hold any debates with President Donald Trump ahead of the November election.
“Well, I have every confidence in Joe Biden. As I’ve said, he knows why. He knows why he is running for president. He has a vision for America that is very inclusive,” Pelosi said on MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber.”
“Why I said he shouldn’t debate him [Trump] has nothing to do with Joe Biden. Joe Biden will be great. He is great as a debater. What it is, is about how totally inappropriate, if that’s the word, that’s the nicest word I can think of the president is. I mean, he has no even slight flirtation with truth, fact, evidence, data that they would have to have people there judging whether he is telling the truth on something.”
Pelosi said that Biden should have “his own forum” and noted she was “concerned” that “the president has not shown any respect for the office that he holds.”
“And I don’t expect that he will have any respect for the debates for that office as he has not shown any respect for giving people the right to vote without intimidation,” she added.
Her comments came just hours after she told reporters at her weekly press conference, “I don’t think there should be any debates.”
“I do not think that the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that anybody should that has any association with truth, evidence, data, and facts. I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States,” she added.
Pelosi, who stands second in line in the current presidential order of succession, asked reporters not to tell Biden about her position.
But if he asked, she would tell him he shouldn’t “dignify that conversation with Donald Trump,” she added. She suggested having each candidate appear separately and have “conversations” about a range of subjects.
Biden confirmed during an appearance on MSNBC a short time later that he would participate in the debates against Trump, adding that he will serve as the “fact-checker on the stage” while debating him.
The current debate schedule, set by the self-described nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, would see Trump and Biden debate on Sept. 29 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. They will then debate twice more in October. One debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), is set for Oct. 7.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.